Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise E3 Impression
You are already dead. If you don’t know that phrase, get used to it, you’ll be hearing it a lot. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise is an action RPG from the Yakuza developers over at Sega. And yeah, the Yakuza gameplay style and Fist of the North Star go together like Kiryu and a mandarin orange.
So first, a quick primer for Fist of the North Star from someone who’s never read or seen it. It’s post-apocalyptic and stars a dude who punches really fast. After he’s done punching people, they blow up gruesomely. Because anime. Now that you’re caught up, you might realize this results in a game where you’re going to wander around punching people and doing quests. Now you might be starting to see how the Yakuza model is a good fit for this.
The demo had three modes: quest, battle, and minigames. First, the quest mode let me do a side story. I was able to walk around town beating up thugs for folks and collecting the parts to build a car. After completing that car, I was able to go and race with it. Because why not have an entire racing minigame in your anime punching game?
Over in the battle mode, I was able to fight against a bunch of dudes at one of three difficulty levels. I chose the intermediate level and saw Kenshiro (our hero) punch people in many different ways. Like in Yakuza, special attacks trigger as enemies lose health, and you simply have to hit the circle button once a prompt appears over their head to do a special. You’ll do a different special attack either randomly or contextually depending on your surroundings. My favorite was one when Kenshiro stuck his thumb into the side of a guy’s head and started spinning him around in a circle to finish off multiple opponents in one move.
I should mention a weird addition to this game. Sometimes, when foes die, their dying screams will turn into a giant comic book-style word that becomes an actual object you can pick up and beat other people with. Yeah, just wrap your head around that one for a while.
Of course, Yakuza veterans know that a large portion of play time is spent doing extremely time-consuming minigames, and Fist of the North Star has plenty of offer on that front. And while none of the ones in the demo would really absorb me for too long, they were really funny to see. One had Kenshiro becoming a bartender and using his martial arts moves to do things like stirring drinks extremely quickly, pronouncing at the end that “You are already drunk.” Another saw him taking a giant steel girder and using it to whack oncoming raiders who were driving motorcycles as though they were baseballs being pitched at him. The game then tracked how long of a distance you hit them for. I got a home run.
Folks looking for more open world Yakuza style fun will have another great option this fall. And those who find the game as presented in the trailer a bit too bloody, well, listen to this. It turns out that in Japan, all the bloody deaths were toned down a bit in the game by doing things like turning the blood black and making it more like it was in a manga rather than a video game. Atlus changed this for the US market, knowing how much folks prefer to not have a game appear to be censored here, but they did leave the option for you to turn it back to like it was in Japan. Perhaps that will help you if you were just on the edge. Either way, the game comes out October 2, 2018 for PlayStation 4. Have fun!